What would you do if you went to a theatre to watch your favourite movie and found all the seats had been sold out? Probably you would return home disheartened and wait for the next show. Mohammad Siraj Uddin, a young entrepreneur of old Dhaka, did something different back in 1967 when he had failed to buy a ticket for his favorite movie “Mahanagar” at Balaka Cinema. An avid movie buff, Siraj instantly vowed to set up a movie hall of his own, which is how the Modhumita Cinema came into being. Modhumita started its operation as a movie hall by screening “Cleopatra”, where our now-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then very young, was one of the early viewers of the film.
Thanks to a modern sound system called Magnetic Sound and relatively new facilities of that time, Modhumita became a cultural marvel within a short time of its inauguration. It was an oasis of entertainment for the younger generation back in the late '60s. With three bigha of land area and a seating capacity of 1221, Madhumita is still a center for entertainment for city dwellers, especially the people of Wari and the old town. The authority has a plan for construction of a cinema complex with modern facilities, food courts and children area.
The iconic Madhumita is celebrating its Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) this December. Iftekhar Uddin Nowshad, the managing director of the hall, was very excited to be greeted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the occasion of its golden jubilee. A colourful event was arranged to observe the anniversary at Madhumita premises in the presence of prominent cultural and political personalities. Tauquir Ahmed's latest movie “Haldaa” is being screened as part of the celebrations.
However, Nowshad is uncertain whether the hall will be able to survive another 50 years. The reasons are very obvious, ranging from lack of quality movies to invasion of satellite TV channels. The country's movie industry is going through a rough time and so is Madhumita. Nowshad said, pointing out that movie-goers are no longer clamoring to see movies at halls and many were compelled to shut down because they were in the red. The annual movie release list had shrunk to 30 though it was more than 100 a few decades back and the number of halls had gone down to 300 from 1200, he added.
Madhumita is being run on subsidies, causing much anxiety to the hall owner.